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  • Chinese robes in Western interiors: transitionality and transformation

Cheang, Sarah, 2010, Book Section, Chinese robes in Western interiors: transitionality and transformation In: Fashion, Interior Design and the Contours of Modern Identity. Ashgate, Farnham, pp. 125-145. ISBN 978-0-7546-6915-9

Abstract or Description:

Cheang’s essay is a contribution to a peer-reviewed collection of essays exploring the relationship between interior design and fashion, the body, fabric, and space since the 18th century. An authority on Asian fashion who has shaped new critical approaches to dress and colonial subjectivities, Cheang first conducted the research for this paper for ‘Fashioning Diaspora Space’, an international AHRC-funded research project conference at the V&A Museum (2009).

Cheang researched the fashion of chinoiserie in late 19th-century Britain and, in particular, the ‘biographies’ of Chinese robes and sleeve bands in their journey to Britain in a period which saw the escalation of imperialist attitudes towards China. Incorporated into the lives of British women as clothing and interior design, these garments were drawn into powerful discourses of femininity, sexuality and race. Cheang’s original research materials included various forms of representation, including painted portraits and documentary photographs, trade and retail catalogues, and contemporary reports in the press.

Cheang’s approach to the consumption and representation of these garments is to understand them within a moral economy of style and aesthetics, class and gender, race and imperialism, sexuality and the body, and the contradictory individualist ethic of the phenomenon of fashion. In this way, her essay advances an original argument which extends far beyond the conventional stylistic analysis of these garments in previous histories of the decorative arts or their understanding as ‘souvenirs’ of imperial China. Published reviews of this work have drawn attention to the centrality of her examples and the breadth of her analysis, one identifying it as a thought-provoking model for the writing of textile history within a volume that pays particular attention to concepts of transformation, translation and transition (Textile History, May 2012).

Subjects: Other > Historical and Philosophical studies > V100 History by period > V140 Modern History > V145 Modern History 1900-1919
Other > Historical and Philosophical studies > V200 History by area > V210 British History
School or Centre: School of Humanities
Date Deposited: 27 Apr 2012 15:10
Last Modified: 27 Oct 2013 20:05
URI: http://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/966

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